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53% of Consumers 'Oblivious' to Healthcare Costs

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2012

The study also found that:

  • Healthcare costs for seniors (65+) dominated health expenditures in 2010, comprising 37% ($1.19 trillion) of total healthcare spending.
  • The value of supervisory care provided to a friend or family member, an indirect cost, was estimated at $1,592 per capita. And that cost appears to impact seniors, small families and low-income groups the most.
  • Direct and indirect out-of-pocket spending is highest among seniors, at $440 billion or 37% of the total spending in this age group. Under-25 year olds spent $157 billion (25%); those aged 25–44 spent $121 billion (22%); and 45-64 year olds spent $179 billion (21%).
  • 35% ($1.12 trillion) of total healthcare expenditures are attributed to individuals living in families with annual incomes of <$25,000. Highest-income families with annual incomes of $100,000 or more account for 17% ($534 billion). Hospital care is the largest expenditure for all income groups (26%) with the exception of the highest income group (20%).
  • Indirect and direct OOP costs comprise a higher percentage of healthcare spending for lower-income individuals than higher-income individuals. Thirty-two percent of healthcare spending for the lowest income group is paid out of pocket compared to 24% for highest-income families.
  • Nearly 80% (an imputed $492 billion) of costs for healthcare goods or services additional to the NHEA were for the key area of supervisory care. Supervisory care is the contribution made by family members and community caregivers – caring for individuals with chronic health problems or disabilities at home – which replaces care that might have otherwise been performed by paid professionals such as nurses or home healthcare workers.
  • The total value of the provision of supervisory care ($492 billion) is more than three times the total spending on nursing homes ($143 billion) and on home healthcare ($70 billion).
  • Almost all supervisory care is provided to individuals living in lower-income families and those living in two-person family units. Supervisory care is most evident in the seniors age group.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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